Supporting Your Neurodivergent Young Adult During The Holidays
For many neurodivergent young adults, the holiday season can be a minefield of social expectations. There is so much pressure to spend lots of time with family and friends. But those types of interaction require a social proficiency that can be difficult for young adults with challenges. Young adults who struggle socially may need guidance and help with planning ahead to take frequent time-outs as a strategy for successfully enjoying the holidays.
Many people need time alone to center themselves despite the deluge of media images of families spending huge amounts of time together during the holidays. If your young adult finds socializing draining, offer opportunities for them to take time to be alone. This is important as it demonstrates to your young adult child that you truly see and accept them for their authentic selves, and that their comfort is important to you. One strategy is to ask your young adult child to enjoy the holiday dinner with your family but then allow them to excuse themselves to take some time alone or take a short walk. If they feel up to it, they can rejoin the family for dessert.
If your young adult is someone who loves consistency, the chaos of the holidays and loss of routines can feel really stressful. Routines create a feeling of calm and safety, as well as reduce the number of decisions that have to be made. But holiday festivities often disrupt the normal flow of a day or week. So keep to your regular routine as much as possible as that will help your young adult with self-regulation. And keep in mind: there is no “right” way to celebrate the season. Do what works for you!
And don’t forget to take care of yourself. Remind yourself that it takes strength to ask for assistance. Reach out to trusted friends and family members that let them know you could use respite and support during the holidays. Ask for help – don’t try to do everything yourself.
From all of us at Advance LA, we wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving and a happy holiday season.